How to Sleep Better (7-Step Evidence-Based System)

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Your lack of quality sleep is killing you. A lack of quality sleep is linked to:

• Brain fog
• Mood swings
• Low motivation
• Poor judgment
• Difficulty learning
• Low impulse control
• Slower reaction time

Unfortunately, many of us aren’t getting enough quality sleep, even if we’re trying to.

People generally need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Some people need less. Some people need more.

This depends on factors like your genetics, health, and lifestyle. I recommend experimenting to see how much sleep works best for you.

We often sacrifice sleep so we can get more work done. We think trading an hour or two of sleep makes us more productive… but it winds up making us less productive because of how not getting enough sleep cripples our brain.

It also hurts your body too – but that’s the topic of another post.

So use this 7-step evidence-based system to easily get better sleep each night:

1) Don’t eat or drink within 3 hours of bedtime

Eating before bed stimulates your digestive system. This hurts your ability to fall asleep.

Alcohol, on the other hand, may help you fall asleep, but it hurts your ability to STAY asleep.

Drinking too much of any liquid close to bedtime can cause you to wake up for bathroom trips in the middle of the night.

We need to be especially careful with one of our favorite liquids… coffee.

It takes 12 to 16 hours for caffeine to be eliminated from your system. This means having caffeine too late in the day can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night.

Aim to stop having caffeine at least 12 hours before your bedtime.

PS: Watch out for sneaky sources of caffeine like sodas, teas, and dark chocolate. Certain varieties of these contain enough caffeine to affect your sleep if you have them too late at night.

2) Stop using screens at least 60 minutes before bed

Your sleep/wake cycle (which is called your circadian rhythm) is regulated by a hormone called melatonin.

Exposure to the blue light from screens reduces the release of melatonin.

This is why you have a hard time falling asleep right after you’ve been using a screen.

Blue light blockers help a little… but they don’t entirely stop the blue light from hurting your sleep.

Plus the content ON those screens also tends to keep your brain from transitioning into a resting state. That’s another reason why late-night screen use makes it hard to sleep.

3) Make your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet

Aim to make your bedroom like a cave at night.

Research shows the ideal temperature for falling asleep is around 67°F (19.4°C).

If you have bright lights outside of your bedroom window like I do, invest in a set of blackout curtains.

More tips to optimize your bedroom for sleep:

• Having white noise like a fan can help you fall asleep

• Charging your phone on the far side of the room so you have to get up to shut off your alarm can stop you from snoozing your alarm (we’ll come back to that)

• Avoid doing anything in bed except sleep and sex or your brain will start associating your bed with wakefulness instead of sleep

I know many people talk about reading in bed before falling asleep. We’ll come back to that too.

4) Do a brain dump

Ever have a hard time falling asleep because you have so much on your mind?

To-dos. Ideas. Fears.

It feels like there’s an epic battle between humans and orcs going on in the theater of your mind. If only there was a way to quiet the chaos so you could relax…

Well – there is. It’s called brain dumping.

Simply grab a pen and paper and write down everything on your mind.

Your mind will be clearer and you’ll fall asleep easier.

If you suddenly have an idea, thought, or question while you’re trying to fall asleep…

Reach for your notebook instead of your phone. Write it down, get it out of your head, and deal with it tomorrow.

This’ll prevent “minutes” of screen use from turning into hours of insomnia.

5) Relax before bed

Your brain and body need to time to relax before you fall asleep.


• Reading
• Journaling
• Meditating
• Taking a hot shower
• Listening to relaxing music

I have my own evening routine with a few of these that helps me sleep better.

Note: I suggest not reading in bed. Your brain associates places with activities. So if you’re reading in bed, your brain will associate your bed more with being awake, so you’ll have a harder time falling asleep.

6) Don’t snooze your alarm in the morning

Snoozing may seem harmless, but it:

• Makes you feel groggier
• Confuses your circadian rhythm
• Trains you to not get up at the first alarm

Your wake time has a bigger effect on your circadian rhythm than the time you fall asleep.

Keep it consistent.

Despite what internet productivity gurus say, it doesn’t matter what time you wake up, it matters what you do when you wake up.

You don’t have to wake up at 5am every morning to be successful. But waking up at a consistent time will give you more energy, focus, and productivity.

By the way, I’m not a regular internet productivity guru, I’m a cool internet productivity guru.
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7) Get more bright light early in the day

Sunlight during the day helps regulate your circadian rhythm.

Getting direct sunlight in the morning helps you fall asleep easier at night.

Go outside right after you wake up. Get 15 minutes of direct sunlight. Make this a consistent part of your daily routine.

But what if you don’t get much sunlight where you live?

You can try using a studio light with a bright white setting. Or you can get a light designed for people with seasonal affective disorder. Those options aren’t quite as good as natural sunlight, but they’re still way better than nothing.

Getting more light right after you wake up will help you:

• Fall asleep faster
• Wake up easier
• Have more energy

Morning sunlight also helps you shift your schedule faster when you’re dealing with jet lag or just simply trying to get on a new schedule.

Here’s a bonus tip which is more of a note on supplements:

Instead of melatonin, consider trying L-theanine, magnesium glycinate, and/or apigenin first.

Of course, it’s best to ask a medical professional before adding or subtracting a supplement from your diet, but those 3 haven’t been found to have any noteworthy negative side effects.

But any supplement won’t help much if you’re not doing the other steps in this system. Focus on those first.

Sleep well tonight!

Follow Joey on his socials

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